Skip to main content

Review: Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette

I don't even know where to start on this one. I have been stunned by Alicia Bessette's debut novel, Simply from Scratch, for a few reasons, and that's as good a place to start as any:

1. I know Alicia. I wrote about her husband, Matthew Quick, when HIS debut novel came out. They live in my town, both ran in the Collingswood Library Book Run that I also did, and I sometimes see Alicia out walking the couple's grayhound. She says she's seen me running around town, too. We had a lengthy discussion about my bright red arm sleeves, which are like long sleeves for running but without being attached to a shirt.

Where she ever found the ability to write about a recently widowed woman, I do not know. I've never been widowed or lost someone close to me who was not a grandparent, but she manages to write from such a deep well of grief for the main character, Rose-Ellen, whose husband is killed suddenly (I won't say how because that would ruin some of the plot techniques Bassette uses of sharing parcels of Nick's death along the way without saying exactly what happened until the end). The book picks up over a year after Rose-Ellen was widowed and is still in the depths of depression. I can't even tell you how many times I cried during this book, and still I have this feeling of a big black hole in my heart, a "what if" something like what happened to Rose-Ellen happened to me.

2. I didn't like the book when I started reading it. I got a copy of the book because I'm writing a piece about beach books written by New Jersey authors, so of course I wanted to consider Bassette's. I had no idea what it was about when I asked.

The first few chapters of the book is clunky, littered with adverbs and overwrought descriptions. But I stuck with the book, and it soon evened out. I read it while doing laundry. I read it before dinner. I put on a DVD after dinner but turned it off and stayed on my couch until I finished the book. Yes, it is THAT GOOD.

My only regret in telling you this is that the book doesn't come out until August. Her publicist rushed me an unfinished proof to read because of my deadline.

It could be that the intro that was a stumbling block to me will be smoother if you decided to give Simply From Scratch a go. And I suggest you do.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Welcome Back to Book a Week with Jen!

Hello hello! Yes, the rumors (that I started) are true. On New Year's Day, I fired up the old Book a Week with Jen blog, gave it a new domain, and I'm going to be writing about my reading habits once again. If you don't know me, my name is Jen A. Miller , and I'm a freelance writer and author. I've been freelancing now for 17 years, and in that time, have written hundreds of articles, three books ( two about the Jersey Shore and one about running ), and two ebooks ( both about freelance writing ). If you're not new around here, wow a lot has changed. I wrote a memoir , picked up a regular running column for the New York Times , and put that back down again. I ran a lot of marathons, and got into ultra marathoning, which lead me to run my first 24 hour race on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 2020/2021 . My first dog, Emily, died in 2017 . I sold my first home, lived out of my car for a year traveling the country , scooped up a scruffy cattle dog mix in Ida

Book 5 of 52: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen

I don't always try to match my reading to what I'm doing, but when I go to Florida, I try to pack at least one Florida weird book. There was no better novel to bring with me to read on a ferry from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park , than Carl Hiaasen's Stormy Weather . Hiaasen was writing about #floridaman before #floridaman was a thing (and when this - # - was the pound sign).  Stormy Weather is set in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which is still the most destructive hurricane to have ever hit Florida, and only one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. still at Category 5 strength. According to the Miami Herald , Hurricane Andrew destroyed 63,000 homes and damaged another 101,241. Such disasters bring out the best in humanity but also the worst. F raud flowed into South Florida in Andrew's wake . That's where  Stormy Weather comes in. From an advertising executive who yanks his new wife away from their Walt Disney World honeymoon to r

Book 11 of 52: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

In my travels, I've accumulated photos in what I call the "Plants Where They Shouldn't Be" series. They're of weeds, flowers and trees growing in places that look uncomfortable: poking out of lava that's OK to walk on but warm enough to generate steam, growing around a mile marker on the road, sprouting on the back of a parking sign - that kind of thing. On the cheesy side, they're reminders that we can flourish in the most unlikely circumstances. On a more realistic end, they show that humans are constantly battling back nature, and that someday we'll probably lose the fight. I thought about those photos when I read  book 8 of 52 Station Eleven  (and watched  the HBO Max adaptation ), which show a world without 99.99 percent of our current human population. The story focuses on people, of course, but set them in a world where the things humans have created - electricity, internet, buildings, bridges, roads - are being taken back by nature. A Jersey Sh